Interviewing and Legal
Pick up a newspaper on any given day and you’re likely to read about the most recent in an ongoing series of employment discrimination settlements. These cases involve all forms of discrimination, including race, religion, sex, and age. For example, in June 2011 the Supreme Court blocked a sex discrimination class action suit against Wal-Mart. The case was considered the largest employment discrimination case in the nation’s history, but the Court ruled unanimously that a class action lawsuit involving more than 1.5 million women could not proceed, reversing a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. While plaintiffs could still pursue individual suits, there would be much less money at stake than the projected billions of dollars.
What does any of this have to do with you personally if you make a concerted effort not to discriminate? The answer is easy, albeit disconcerting: If you’re in HR and anyone in the organization is charged with discrimination, you are certain to be involved in what is often a lengthy legal process. If you’re personally accused of employment discrimination, justly or not, you will find yourself embroiled in each step of the lawsuit. You may even be called upon to provide input if you’re not in HR or personally involved with a particular charge of employment discrimination. That’s because anyone having anything to do with any aspect of the employment process is expected to have a basic knowledge of EEO laws. Unintentional violations due to a lack of knowledge are not excusable.
The information contained in this chapter is current as of this writing and is not intended to represent legal advice. Readers are urged to consult with legal counsel in all equal employment matters.
Federal employment laws exist to ensure individuals the right to compete for all work opportunities without bias because of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability. Many state laws extend beyond this coverage to matters such as sexual orientation. Certain aspects of key employment legislation may not